Or perhaps more accurately, what has David been doing? It’s possible that some of you have wondered why I haven’t written much lately. I know a friend did ask, specifically about why I’ve been quieter on Facebook. Actually, I haven’t, I’ve just moved to a different forum. So what have I been doing? The answer is working on #blacklivesmatter.
First, since June 5, I’ve stood every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4-530PM on the corner of Main and Essex Streets here in Melrose holding various signs, all to remind people that Black Lives Matter. See, we have a problem in this country, especially we White people Something like the George Floyd murder happens. We react. Show a little outrage. Maybe show up to a demonstration. Then we move on to the next crisis, to our daily lives, to whatever. The long and short is that we forget. Maybe we don’t forget, but at least don’t act. We may feel good about the demonstration we went to, that we helped “change” things. But the reality is that it is going to take a lot more than that to effect real change. So I stand there, three times a week, to remind people that change needs to happen. Mostly I stand alone. Sometimes others join me (my mom and Roger surprised me one day, showing up unannounced to join me). Most often it’s a man named Gamm (I have no idea if I spelled his name correctly). He passes through Melrose on his way home from work, saw me a couple of times, and now stands with me on a fairly regular basis. #bethepebble
As to my writings on Facebook, they’ve primarily moved to two Melrose community pages. That’s why some of you who follow me there haven’t seen anything. Only members of the group get the notices of when I post. My writings have started with me posting about someone threatening me with violence for holding a #BLM sign. It’s happened more than once. As Gamm has reminded me on several occasions, one of the threats included “I’m going to come back and kill you”. I now wear a body camera to record it all. My postings have included who I am (one that I wrote about here on my blog), what I’m doing, and why. I’m challenging the community to step up and people are starting to. The interesting part is that some of the responses are the same sort of hate that I’ve seen when I’m on “my” corner. The hate has surprised some and has also inspired more to step up. And along those lines, I’ve called on the community to join me on “my” corner this Saturday, October 3, at 10:30am. Who knows how many will show up? To some extent that’s not really the point, the conversation that I’m triggering is. It’s on Facebook and other places. A mom wrote me, told me that the signs I hold prompt conversations with her son about what I’m doing and what the sign means. Two things today illustrate where some of this is going. In the first, I was standing with a new acquaintance, when a mom and her four or so year-old daughter stopped to talk for a few minutes. As they walked away the child’s last words to us were “Black Lives Matter”. In the second, when I was done, I was walking back to my car, and someone I’ve never met, not sure I’ve even seen, opened her window and as she drove by said “Thank you David for doing what you are doing”. #bethepebble
And finally, I have been writing, mostly a lot of notes and ideas. I just haven’t been writing here. I have an idea for a book about what White people need to know about racism and what we need to do to end it. You see, most people think of racism as a Black problem. Yet it’s not, it’s a problem that White people created long ago, even before the first settlers landed at Jamestown, before the first slave was brought here in 1619. My thoughts are to create something along a the lines of a twelve step program. Step one: accept that racism exists. Step two: learn what racism is. Most people think it’s about saying “that word”. It’s not. The word is a manifestation of racism, an exercise of it, but it is not what racism is. A lot of people believe that racism ended, that it no longer exists, because people like John Lewis are no longer being beaten. Racism is more than that. My time is being spent learning, reading, taking notes, forming ideas.
Lastly, I want to throw a shout out to my mom and dad (dad passed on 2003, so it’s more metaphorical with him, mom is a subscriber here). If my dad had heroes, Bill Russell and Ted Williams lead that list. I’ve written here before about why Bill Russell matters to me. From my dad I learned about him as a sportsman. From my mom it was about how he was treated, that no one deserved the indignities he endured. I also learned from my dad to not quit, to follow it through. Those of you who knew him would know that he went to work every day, no matter what. I remember a time when he likely had the flu, barely seemed well enough to stand, and he worked anyway. There were a few reasons. One was it was his business, he needed to. But more important was that he was a pharmacist, that people needed what he did, that a sick person could be denied their medication if he closed for a day. I think part of what happened with me as well was the flight gene, of the flight or fight pairing, failed to be turned on. As an example, after the first time when I was threatened where I really felt that violence was imminent, I came home and made a new sign for the next time I went out. It said “I Won’t Back Down #BLM”. And yeah, I wrote a little about that here as well in the “I am well” notes.
Thank you for reading. And rest assured, I have a lot more to say…